Google Engineer Lives in Box Truck

Google Engineer Lives in Box Truck + From Inside the Box

‘From Inside the Box’ is an amusing, educating and oddly inspiring collection of thoughts written by Brandon, a recently graduated software engineer in Silicon Valley who lives in a moving truck. Brandon catalogs his experiences, presenting a compelling case for his minimalist lifestyle.

I’m of a similar mindset that having too much nice ‘stuff’ can lead to complacency and unnecessary distractions, leaving people unmotivated and unfocused. Living with bare essentials can help reinforce the mindset to be hungry and to strive towards one’s goals. It also allows people to be more adaptable to change. Upon the start of my career, I found a way to fit everything I needed for my apartment into my car. It felt very liberating that I could quickly pack all my worldly possessions and relocate to wherever opportunity presented itself.

Shared with permission from Brandon
Timeline: July, 2015 – Present (2 years, 4 months as of October, 2017)
Net Savings: ~$40,000 (as of October, 2017)

From Brandon:

“I felt like I was following the prescribed course, the one laid out in front of me. You know the one: work hard in high school to get into a good college. Work hard in college to get a good job. Work hard at your job so you can fill your suburban home with stuff you don’t need to impress people who don’t care. Retire, then figure out what you want to do. I know, I’ve said all this before. It’s true though. And it’s also true, I was passively barreling down that exact path, right up to the ‘fill your suburban home with stuff’ part. That’s where it kinda lost its appeal for me.”

“The truck had fairly humble beginnings, it was legitimately just a bed, a dresser, and a coat rack dumped into the back of a moving van.”

“I chose the truck because I was indifferent to appearances and all I needed was a bed and a place to store my clothes. Everything else is superfluous. If I cared about how grim it looked or what people thought of it, it’s unlikely I’d have ever gotten a truck (or even an RV) in the first place. The truck serves its function and it serves it well, so it’s hard to justify putting in the money, time, and effort to make any ‘improvements’ which do nothing to make me a happier, healthier person.”

“One big reason I got a truck was because it’s much less conspicuous than an RV. If you see an RV in a corporate parking lot, your reaction is ‘Someone definitely lives there. Like, that’s totally someone’s home’. In a corporate setting, large white box trucks are moving around constantly, and you develop a sort of selective blindness towards them.”

“I think the grueling commute is what burns a lot of people out, and the time and energy and resources I save by not having to endure that play a huge role in keeping me happy and productive as I work towards my larger goals…Call it schadenfreude if you want, but on days when I’m not up at the crack of dawn, there’s nothing I love more than rolling out of bed at my leisure, lazing my way to the gym, hopping on a treadmill and watching the brutal commute thousands and thousands of people are enduring. It’s especially glorious because a large percentage of these people are, at a snail’s pace, traveling to exactly where I already am. And it only took me 5 minutes to get here.”

“Since I started work, I’ve also met a bunch of great people who enjoy the novelty of my situation.”

“I’m working until 5 or 6 PM, and then hanging out with friends or working on personal projects until 8:30 or 9 PM. When I’m in the box, I’m either writing these posts or getting ready for bed. The whole point of this experience is that a bed was the only part of a house that I needed, so if I was in here all of the time, I’d be doing it wrong.”

“I exchange my time for money via my job. Time goes in, money comes out. Simple. Since most of my money comes from my time-commitment to work, it makes sense (at least in my head) to view money as just a loose abstraction over my time, right? Everything I buy takes some non-zero amount of time for me to earn. Thinking about it this way, why would I want to throw my time away for things that aren’t worth it?”

“I’ve always known that if things don’t work out, I can just fall back to an overpriced apartment for normal people.”

“I noted early on that I wasn’t the only sketchy-looking vehicle on campus. And the longer I’ve been doing this, the keener my eye has gotten to the subtle, but telltale signs of “unconventional” or otherwise “alternative” living situations: windows tinted a little too deeply, parking just slightly farther away from a building than everyone else, a few scattered blankets on the back seat. It was nothing more than conjecture and supposition until I made contact with another truck-person.”

“I don’t want to be comfortable. Affording myself cushy modern comforts means I’d likely get comfortable just hanging out, and not doing anything enriching or productive or fun.”

“I can think of a handful of times where my justification for doing something crazy was, ‘Hell, I already live in a truck, why not?'”

“I thought it would affect my social life for the worse. Instead, I’ve been meeting up with like-minded mobile home enthusiasts and I’m more likely to take impromptu trips with friends. Speaking of friends though, mine have no problem filling lulls in conversation by talking about how I’m ‘the truck guy’. It normally leads to some genuinely interesting conversations around goals and priorities.”

“I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what I would change if I did it all again, and I usually don’t come up with much. In fact, if I could go back in time and give my younger self advice, right when his plane had just landed in California, I’d really only have one thing to say: try a smaller truck.”

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